My Gardening History

I am an urban gardener.  I live in Columbia, Missouri and grow food in my back yards.  Now this is no simple hobby garden with a few plants and a few containers.  My garden produces a lot of food and I am in it to make a difference to my families health and pocket book.

When I first started growing tomatoes I did not have very much luck.  I would pick tomato starts that I could get locally from hardware stores or farmers markets.   I did not know much about the tomatoes I grew and often went with names that were familiar like “Better Boy”, or names that sounded good like “Arkansas Traveler”.   I enjoy cooking with tomatoes so I often grew a variety of shapes for canning, salads and color options.

Now, no matter what I grew I often had what I would call ‘Tomato Failure’.  If you have had Tomato Failure, you know what I am talking about.  A friend of mine described it as growing $40 tomatoes. Either the tomatoes would have bottom rot or more likely the plants would get some sort of blight and die back before I got a decent crop.   I rotated my beds each year and no matter where I grew them, tomato failure was my result.  Now I would get some good ones but often several of the strains I grew would not work out.

At one point I visited with folks down at Baker Creek Seeds and got some advice on tomatoes to try.  I started growing from seed and got a little better results but not a stellar showing.   I asked the farmers selling starts at the market and they all recommended I go with local strains that are proven to deal with our Missouri issues.   I tried this and again the results were OK but not great. I had not tried the right one and kept taking on new varieties.

IMG_3549The Ivan Saves my Faith in Tomatoes

Then the day came, I was down at Coopers Landing, where a few bands were doing a show.  It was a friends birthday and we were enjoying the lovely day.   There was a stand that was selling plant starts.  I started chatting with the lady and told her about my Tomato Failure.  I asked her about her tomatoes and she told me about one of her family heirlooms.  It was the Ivan.  She told me how strong and wonderful it was, how it stood up well to Missouri issues and put out a lot of great tasting tomatoes.

She had me at that moment.   I had already planted my garden and did not really have room for one more Tomato.   I figured I would plan it somewhere and see.

That Ivan, was my first Ivan and obviously not my last.   As you can see in these pictures.  The Ivan’s are the really tall full plants that are almost double the height of the ones growing in front them.   The cattle panels, the tomatoes are growing on, are 8 feet tall.  This picture, taken August 22nd, show the potential for these tomatoes.    They were not even fully grown in this picture.  You can also see they are full of fruit.

The Ivan is indeterminate, which means it puts out tomatoes continuously throughout the summer.  It is a later tomato, in that I find that I am picking tomatoes from mid to late July on.   I have not found another plant that meets its yield, durability or taste.    shawna's planterThis picture shows the Ivan growing at a friend place.  She does not have a sunny yard, so she grows her plants in sub-irrigated planters.  This shot was taken in mid July.  This grouping is four plants in two planters.

This tomato does well in planters and in garden beds.  If you look close you will see the unique leaf pattern that almost looks like it is curling back on itself.  While this looks odd at first it is just how this plant grows.

The Ivan turned out to be quite the winner.  I am now dedicated to this tomato and helping other gardeners try this great plant.  With everyone’s help we can get this tomato back into the market and available to all.

Please check out the Ivan Tomato Rescue Project on indiegogo at http://igg.me/at/ivantomatorescueproject

We appreciate your support.

Laura Flacks-Narrol


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